Thiruvananthapuram: As part of intensifying the agitation on the Sabarimala issue and against the alleged police atrocities, a four-member central delegation, deputed by BJP chief Amit Shah, arrived in Kerala on Sunday to meet the party workers and devotees participating in the agitation.
According to a statement by the party, the four members – Saroj Pandey, Vinod Sonkar, Pralhad Joshi and Nalin Kumar Kateel – will submit the report on the issue to Shah within 15 days.
It is also reported that the BJP team will interact with the Pandalam and the Sabarimala tanthri.
BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai on Saturday said its leaders would launch an indefinite hunger strike before the Secretariat, to press various demands, including the lifting of prohibitory orders and providing basic amenities to pilgrims in and around the Lord Ayyappa temple.
The saffron party also wanted the scrapping of alleged ‘fake’ cases against its state general secretary K Surendran, who is now behind the bars after being arrested en route to Sabarimala earlier this month.
Rejecting reports that BJP was ending its Sabarimala agitation, he said, “The party will launch indefinite hunger strike before the Secretariat from December 3.”
BJP state chief P S Sreedharan Pillai had earlier declared that they were halting the protests at Sabarimala and taking it to the front of the secretariat here, a move which the Opposition Congress has dubbed as a compromise between the ruling LDF and the right-wing parties.
“The agitation in front of the secretariat is BJP’s political protest. Shifting to the secretariat was part of intensifying the protest and not compromising,” Rajagopal said.
Pillai had expressed similar views and said that the Sabarimala protests was against the CPI(M)-led LDF government and not against the Supreme Court decision, allowing entry of women of all age groups into the shrine.
Meanwhile, BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP V Muraleedharan said that no BJP leader or worker would agree to compromise with the CPI(M) on the protest.
Senior leader and state General secretary A N Radhakrishnan will kick start the agitation,” he told reporters in Kochi.
At present, we are planning a 15-day-stir, he said adding that the party would decide on further course of the agitation after taking into consideration the CPI(M)-led LDF government’s stand on their demands.
Besides this, the party has also plans to start a state-wide signature campaign to collect one crore signatures demanding protection of rituals and traditions of the shrine.
On the other hand, the Kerala government is trying to garner support to implement the top court verdict even as the Congress and several right-wing groups are up in arms against it.
We are bound to adhere to the Supreme Court ruling even as the Sangh parivar with the support of the Congress is out to create trouble at Sabarimala,” CM Pinarai Vijayan said.
Vijayan, in an attempt to garner support after the protests by right-wing groups over the entry of women of all ages to the Sabarimala shrine, said a “women wall” would be formed on January 1, from the northern district of Kasargode to the state capital, pledging support to the state government’s stand.
Thomas Isaac, the number two in the Kerala cabinet tweeted, “Great Wall of Kerala, to prevent the state from sliding back into medieval madness, is going to be raised by a million women from one end of Kerala to the other on New Years Day…Come join the Resistance…”
“The hash tag of the ‘women wall’ would not be to turn Kerala into a lunatic asylum. At the meeting, organisations have pledged their support to the state government on the stand taken by us on the Sabarimala issue,” said Vijayan on Saturday, adding political parties can also send their women cadre.
The Supreme Court will hear in open court on January 22 a batch of review petitions on the matter.
The top court had on September 28 paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple, saying that the ban on entry of menstrual age women amounted to gender discrimination.
Surendran was once again denied bail in a case related to the attack on a 52-year-old woman who came to visit the shrine during the Chithira Atta festival earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the Pathanamthitta distirct administration, under which Sabarimala falls, has extended the prohibitory orders till December 4.
The shrine has been under a heavy security blanket since November 17, the day when it was opened for the annual two month-long pilgrimage season.
Police had said that the restriction was in the backdrop of the frenzied protests witnessed at the shrine over the state government’s decision to implement the September 28 apex court order.